Slack Time and Innovation
28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015 Last revised: 7 Oct 2021
Date Written: April 2015
The extant literature linking slack time to innovation focuses on how slack time facilitates creative activities such as ideation, experimentation, and prototype development. We turn attention to how slack time may enable activities that are less creative but still important for innovation, namely mundane, execution-oriented tasks. First, we document the main effect: a sharp rise in innovative projects posted on a major crowdfunding platform when colleges are on break. Next, we report timing and project type evidence consistent with the causal interpretation that slack time drives innovation. Finally, we present a series of results consistent with the mundane task mechanism but not with the traditional creativity-related explanations. We do not rule out the possibility that creativity benefits from slack time. Instead, we introduce the idea that mundane, execution-oriented tasks, such as those associated with launching a crowdfunding campaign (e.g., administration, planning, promotion), are an important input to innovation that may benefit significantly from slack time.
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